Opinions
29.07.2021

Data management – The foundation for handling data in a way that adds value

Data quantities continue to increase. Data has value. Therefore, the strategic aim of every bank must be to capture this value in everyday business and enhance it in a targeted manner, where possible. But how can this be achieved? The most important aspect is to create order from this chaos. Tasks, skills and responsibilities for handling data must be expediently and functionally delegated across the whole bank. Existing "typical" functions that take a structured approach to data-related matters (such as data architecture, operations, IT security, as well as Legal & Compliance issues) are ideally supplemented by a data management competence center.
Article byWerner W. Wyss

The legal perspective is only one part of the whole picture

At the beginning of June, the Swiss Bankers Association issued guidelines for handling data in everyday business, which explained the challenges and potential solutions to handling data in an easily understood, yet balanced manner. The guidelines made it clear that concrete, specific solutions are only possible when based on solid general principles. Efficient, value-added handling of data is not solely determined by legal requirements in this case. Alongside consulting specialists in the field, the task facing Legal & Compliance primarily focuses on identifying and interpreting the relevant legal obligations, then formulating requirements for observing the framework as set out by law. The "translation" of such requirements into operationalized specifications in the form of technical and organizational measures (known as TOM) is then carried out by specialists outside the Legal & Compliance department. Effective data governance, which also includes efficient data management, is a key factor to achieving success.

Data management as a foundation for handling data

Beyond legal requirements, there are many additional questions to consider from the bank's perspective that must be answered by management—with the aim of efficiently and responsibly handling data. For example, what data must be obtained, and in which quality? What level of integrity and availability is necessary for which data records? Which uses of data require optimization? How is it ensured that fundamental data is unaltered and also used in a uniform manner across the company? How is customer trust in the bank's data processing established? A "Data Management" competence center is a prerequisite for answering this and other questions. Such a competence center analyzes, with corresponding expense, the world of data at the bank along with associated procedures, preparing suggestions for improvement in the process. However, such initial expense is in the interest of the bank itself, largely due to increased efficiency in terms of data usage by staff. Such a unit should have a certain degree of technical autonomy outside the operative IT department in line with this bank-wide task. People are predestined as staff to have in-depth IT knowledge, a project-oriented mindset and in-depth awareness of the needs of customers, employees as well as the bank.

Data management ensures improved efficiency through structured processes

A data management competence center can greatly improve the quality of data and the processes for data use, and can therefore also improve the value of data. Based on wide-ranging analysis across the entire bank, it can be ensured, for example, that only necessary data is obtained and that this is made available at a defined location in an updated form as part of an overall concept.

The data must be of sufficient quality for necessary processing, whilst also being available in accordance with the other requirements of the bank and its staff. Processes for handling data must be correspondingly and expediently restructured along the whole life cycle. This applies from procurement, to actual use, to possible deletion of data. In short, it means that every bank employee obtains the data they require at the touch of a button and that this is up to date and also in the required format. Such increased efficiency in data usage makes it possible to provide customers with up-to-date, personalized offers and services at all times, which are ideally tailored to their requirements. The improved quality of advice resulting from this subsequently leads to staff being better motivated through successful experiences and increasingly satisfied customers. Furthermore, optimized data usage in the bank results in generally more efficient processes, such as within risk management or when deleting data in a structured manner. To summarize: the bank saves both time and money.

About the author

Werner W. Wyss is the Head of Regulatory Affairs at Zürcher Kantonalbank and a co-author of the Guidelines for Handling Data in Everyday Business, issued by the Swiss Bankers Association.

Blog series on handling dataDigitalisation

Authors

Werner W. Wyss
Head Regulatory Affairs, Zürcher Kantonalbank

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